Editor's note: Information from a news release from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
A grant for $250,000 to the Little Earth of United Tribes housing complex in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community funded a number of innovative initiatives.
The two entities have worked together for many years to improve housing and services at Little Earth. Little Earth was founded in 1973 to create affordable housing for the growing urban American Indian community in Minneapolis. It is the only urban American Indian owned, subsidized housing complex in the United States with American Indian preference.
Located on 9.4 acres in the East Phillips neighborhood, Little Earth spans a multi-block area with 212 housing units home to nearly 1,000 residents. Almost half of Little Earth residents are under the age of 21; residents are 98 percent American Indian with ties to more than 28 tribal nations. Children from Little Earth attend 23 different schools.
The typical resident is a single mother in her early 30s with two children. The $250,000 grant funded the following: the Volunteer Program, the Urban Farm, the School Success Program, the Youth Development Center, the Employment & College Success Program, the Community Transformation Plan, Safety Program, transportation maintenance, administration, and fundraising and development.
“Working together, our organization and residents have boldly raised household incomes, education levels, community volunteerism, and safety. Driving this revitalization is our philosophy of change, which maintains that all Indian people deserve to dream and deserve access to the skills they need to achieve their dreams,” wrote Little Earth President/CEO Bill Ziegler in the request. “Shakopee has long been a partner at Little Earth, providing generous support for the community’s educational programs.”
SMSC donations to Little Earth total more than $1 million in recent years. A 2011 grant from the SMSC for $450,000 funded a home readiness training program, a feasibility study for a food co-op and urban farm, an on-line high school training program, a college success program, a new van, the Omniciye Program (a one-stop case-management program), and administrative services. In previous years the SMSC funded a Youth Development Center, operating costs, and housing renovations.
The SMSC also helped pay for solar panels which were installed through the organization Honor the Earth in 2008. The SMSC also supports non-profit organizations which provide services to Little Earth residents, such as Youthcare and the Domestic Abuse Program.
About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Minnesota, is the owner and operator of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Little Six Casino, Mazopiya, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, and other enterprises on a reservation south of the Twin Cities. The SMSC utilizes its financial resources from gaming and non-gaming enterprises to pay for the internal infrastructure of the Tribe, including but not limited to roads, water and sewer systems, emergency services, and essential services to its members in education, health, and well-being.
A tribal charitable giving program which comes from a cultural and social tradition to assist those in need has given away more than $258.2 million to Indian Tribes, charitable organizations, and schools since 1996. Through the Mdewakanton LIFE Program, the SMSC has donated 775 Automated External Defibrillators to tribes, schools, police and fire departments, and other organizations with 21 lives saved due to their use.
The SMSC has also made more than $523 million in loans mostly to other tribes for economic and infrastructure development projects. Since 1996 the SMSC paid more than $7.6 million for shared local road construction and an additional $16.7 million for road projects on the reservation. The SMSC has also paid $14.4 million to local governments for services and another $6.4 million for other projects.